C&G News: Airmen return home after six-month deployment

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Around 500 airmen from the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base returned recently from a half-year deployment in Asia.

According to Selfridge Brig Gen. John D. Slocum, commander of the 127th Wing, the airmen have been filtering home over the past several weeks, with the largest contingency returning to Michigan over the Oct. 22-24 weekend, with 10 jets and pilots returning on Oct. 22 and the majority of the airmen coming home on Oct. 24. Another group of 50 airmen returned at the end of October.

A majority of the airmen and aircraft spent six months, the longest mass deployment of Selfridge airmen since the Korean War, in southwest Asia, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission to eliminate the Islamic State group (ISIS), and other missions.

“Our airmen, and their families, have been fully engaged. It is with great gratitude and respect for a job well done that we welcome them home,” Slocum said last week.

The largest group of airmen, about 350, were from the units that fly and operate the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft at Selfridge, notably the 107th Fighter Squadron, 127th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 127th Maintenance Squadron. A-10 pilots and support crews sported more than 1,600 sorties, logging more than 11,000 combined hours of combat flight time. The A-10 is principally an air-to-ground attack aircraft; it is popularly known as the Warthog, according to Selfridge officials.

Smaller contingents of airmen from the KC-135 Stratotanker units at Selfridge deployed for two- and three-month periods, flying 300-plus missions and logging almost 2,200 combat flight hours. They completed their deployments early in October. Units involved in the KC-135 deployment included the 171st Air Refueling Squadron, the 191st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 191st Maintenance Squadron. The KC-135 is principally an air-to-air refueling aircraft, though it can also be configured to carry injured personnel or troops and cargo.

Following their safe return, officials voiced their gratitude for the airmen.

“I join the entire state of Michigan in welcoming home the brave men and women of the 127th Wing and thank them for their service on behalf of a grateful nation,” said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “While the airmen of the 127th Wing have made great sacrifices in defense of our nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to their families, who have endured months away from their loved ones. The parents, spouses and children of America’s service members are heroes who do not get thanked enough, and it is their steadfast support that helps keep our military strong.”

By:  Julie Snyder
Source: C&G News